"Hope waits but does not sit.  It strains with eager anticipation to see what may be coming on the horizon.  Hope does not pacify;  it does not make us docile and mediocre.  Instead, it draws us to greater risk and perseverance."  ~ Dan Allender  

What do you place your hope in?  This is a question that has been swirling around in my mind for months.

The boys middles names are family names - just like their Daddy.  My middle name is from a promise in scripture that God gave to my mom after my older sister had gone to be with Jesus. A promise that He would turn my mother's "mourning into joy" (isa 61).  And now our girls, just like their mama, have names that give testimony to God's promises.  God gave us Hebrews 11:1 when He called us to adopt from Ethiopia, "now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Faith's adoption was a lesson in faith for our entire family and taught us what that word truly meant.  After applying to adopt our precious Elie, I began to pray about her middle name.  The more we learned about her situation we began to battle with the enemy's lies that sought to place fear in our hearts.  It was during this time,  we received a post card in the mail from Samaritan's Purse with this verse on it - "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:13).   Hope.  That was it, Eliana Hope. 

That began our journey of learning about hope.  I can't get away from it.  Letters and emails from friends, sermons, books.  You know God is up to something when everywhere you turn you encounter the same message.  Or maybe it is just that I can be slow and stubborn sometimes, so God likes to go on an all out approach in my life.  I have been taught since I was a little girl that my hope must be in Christ alone and I have believed that Truth my whole life.  But in the day to day is that really where I place my hope?  

Last fall I heard Beth Moore speak in Baltimore.  It was a wonderful weekend away with my girlfriends. Lots of yummy food, late night tears and laughter, and, of course, incredible teaching.  Beth taught that weekend about "nets".  The nets that we create in our own life due to sin, the nets that we allow other people to put on us, the  nets that we put on other people.   These nets trap us and start to completely strangle our lives.  But Christ came to give us freedom from those nets.  Psalm 25:15 says, "My eyes are ever toward the Lord for He will pluck  my feet out of the net."  I cannot get myself out of the net.  No self help book is going to release me from the nets in my life.  Freedom comes only from lifting my eyes up to God.  It seems to go against every human instinct and our independent American spirit, but that's how God's way is most of the time.  From the human perspective it often seems so upside down and backwards. God immediately began opening my eyes to some nets in my life and the past 5 months have been a journey, painful at times, of being released from each of them.  

I think a net forms in my own life when my hope is in the wrong place.  When I hope in  myself, a friend, a family member, a particular circumstance, things start to go a little crazy.  I can become so consumed with others opinions of me that it can take over my thoughts.  It creeps in even in the most beautiful day and begins to steal my  joy and rot my soul.  When I place my hope in another person it is a form of idolatry.  I begin to elevate their approval to a place it does not belong.  Christ died to bring me freedom from this prison.  When my hope is in anything but God it is doomed to bring only frustration and disappointment. He alone is faithful and unfailing.  When we accepted Elie's referral last summer, God placed this prayer on our hearts - "Father, use our time of waiting to refine us and make us into the parents Elie needs us to be."  Here is one lesson on this path God has me on.  One of many. Each lesson used to conform this messed up selfish heart into something to bring Him glory.  This passage from the book of Psalms is currently where God has me parked.  Hope that it also speaks life into your own world.  

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, 
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in You.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD and HE answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalm 33:18 - 34:4)

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